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u/sethra007 · 34 pointsr/hoarding

> I moved out a few years ago and I couldn't figure out how everyone else kept their homes so tidy. I'd clear up, mop, throw away rubbish, bleach everything and within a week it was back to tiptoe-ing over bags of things and empty food packets and cat litter.

One of the things I realized when I first moved out on my own was that my parents had taught me how to clean, but not when to clean.

Actually, that's not quite accurate. I was taught that when it all became too much (usually about once every two to three months), to devote an whole weekend (or as much as a week during summer vacation) to an all-out, full court press approach to cleaning. Starting on Friday night there would be hours and hours of non-stop sorting, organizing, throwing away, dusting, sweeping, mopping, etc.. It meant giving up an entire weekend, was utterly exhausting, and was extremely demotivating. When I moved out on my own, I never wanted to clean when things got bad because I learned this was how you clean house.

What I eventually figured out is that the best housekeepers--once they have their house where they want it--spend somewhere between 10 and 30 minutes a day maintaining the state of the house. So rather than spending two to three days on one huge deep-cleaning rampage, good housekeepers break cleaning down into small, manageable tasks that only take a few minutes every day. Essentially, they do a handful of daily cleaning tasks, and one slightly larger cleaning task, per day.

It was like a light bulb turning on in my head. I would much rather spend 15 or 30 minutes a day tidying up than three or more days deep-cleaning every two or three months.

If you ever read the classic children's book Little House on the Prairie, you might recall Ma Ingall's housekeeping schedule:

> "Wash on Monday,
> Iron on Tuesday,
> Mend on Wednesday,
> Churn on Thursday,
> Clean on Friday,
> Bake on Saturday,
> Rest on Sunday."

If you've ever read any books on the history of housekeeping (Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson is a nice introduction to it), you'll know that the above was the traditional housekeeping schedule for much of American history. Some folks have come up with modernized versions (example), and of course I just posted one here yesterday.

The point of schedules like this is three-fold:

  1. Houses don't just magically stay clean. The best housekeeper you know works a little bit every single day to keep their house in shape.
  2. The reason that they only have to clean a little bit every day is because they have a routine to keep ahead of the cleaning and clutter.
  3. Once you develop a routine that works for you, staying ahead of cleaning and clutter is trivial. Seriously, you'll kick yourself for not having gotten a routine sooner.

    And here's a secret that I learned when I adopted a housekeeping schedule: If something happens and you can't do your routine for a day or two, your house doesn't immediately descend into utter chaos. Trust me when I tell you, it's a LOT easier to recover from missing a couple of days of small tasks that from a giant hoard.

    "Wash on Monday" is, at it's essence, the same thing as the "Starting Small" approach mentioned in the Hoarding Resource List in the sidebar. It's breaking down housekeeping into manageable tasks, saying "Today I will work on X, and only X."

    What ultimately worked for me was this:

  4. Using a housekeeping schedule very similar to the one I posted. (I don't recall where I found the one I use, but there's only very minor differences between it and the one I posted).
  5. I bought the book Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campbell. You can by the book used for pennies, or order the PDF version from his website.

    Campbell has owned/run a professional housekeeping service in California for decades, and their service is known for being able to clean a standard-size 1-story home in 15 minutes or less. This book breaks down their cleaning method for the homeowner--Campbell tells you what cleaning tools and chemicals to use (and why), tells you what rooms to start in (and why), tells you where in that room to start (and why), and literally walks you through how to clean an individual room. It is NOT a book of housekeeping "tips", but actual instructions on how to clean in a certain way, and why that way is both effective and efficient.

    Campbell's method is now how I clean my house, and I absolutely recommend this book to any recovering hoarder who's gotten past the retaining-items stage and is now trying to develop housekeeping skills. I will state that the very first time you try his cleaning method, it won't take 15 minutes per room because obviously you're starting out learning it. But as you continue to use it and get used to it, you will speed up considerably.

    It sounds like right now you have a lot of clutter to get rid of, but it also sounds like you know how to get rid of it and are able to let go, and that puts you WAY ahead of a lot of hoarders. Once you get your apartment back where you want it, I suggest that you:

  • get a copy of Speed Cleaning,
  • learn Campbell's cleaning method for each room,
  • and then use the housekeeping schedule above (maybe combined with this one from Molly Maids) to develop a housekeeping routine that works for you.

    Finally, if you get to a point in your recovery where you want to start exploring different housekeeping systems, please visit /r/messyhomes. The mod, /u/Bellainara has hoarding tendencies herself, and welcomes people with similar struggles. You can contact her with any questions. The intro post for /r/messyhomes is here.
u/moogie_moogie · 20 pointsr/hoarding

I'm sorry that you had to give up things when you didn't feel ready. I'm sure your son was only trying to help.

I think the emotional loss you feel right now is greater than the actual replacement-value loss of the items - but no mistake, your feelings are valid. But maybe it will help to focus on 1) son's good intentions and 2) knowledge that youngest son's needs can be met relatively inexpensively?

Old textbooks really don't hold up, even writing. Your mother's books have great sentimental value for you but I don't think they would do the best job for your youngest. Also, you can get the Herroit box set for $35 from Amazon, if you really need it. But your library should be able to place an inter-library loan request for you, too. Your son's school should also be able to do that and get the books pretty quickly.

Edit: Maybe you can try also recognizing that the value of the books lies in your awareness of them, not the physical shells. Physical items are replaceable. The fact that you had knowledge of certain books relevant to your child's interest, and could tell him -- that's the real value. You might be frustrated that you need to do things a little differently (place a library request, order online) in order to get the physical book, but it's do-able.

u/Saga_I_Sig · 2 pointsr/hoarding

When packing, keep all the items you personally would deem important/necessary/"good" into boxes separate from the junk/unnecessary, and in a third category, trash. Have her unpack the first category when she moves in, and see if you can save the rest for until she's in a better place mentally and will have a better chance of recognizing that not all of that trash and junk is actually useful or necessary for her life. Try to unpack together IF and only if you personally have the mental energy. Do not do anything that stresses you our or makes you depressed/unhappy/anxious, etc. You need to take care of your own well-being first - helping a hoarder is exhausting, frustrating, and depressing, and you have no obligation to subject yourself to that if you don't want. You can help your sister with some things and then quit any time if you feel like it's negative impacting you and your happiness.

I think that therapy could be very, very helpful for your sister. Try to find a psychologist who specializes in or has experience working with people wth hoarding disorder. My mom (a hoarder) finally got a skilled therapist, and is already making good progress after two sessions. That said, my mom 100% acknowledges that she has a major problem and has hoarding disorder, so she is very open to treatment and wants to change (even if she doesn't know how and can't fully control her hoarding behavior).

As I'm sure you know, hoarding often goes along with other mental illnesses, which create a negative spiral and make the hoarding worse. For my mom, it's schizoaffective disorder (a kind of schizophrenia with both manic and depressive episodes). In my experience, getting effective treatment for her other mental disorder(s) made the hoarding much better. Now when she's manic, she isn't AS manic and doesn't go out and buy hundreds of items at a time to add to the hoard. When she's depressed, she isn't as depressed or for as long, so can get back to cleaning/daily life sooner. And her attachment to useless possessions and trash also seems to be lessening.

With comorbid mental issues, it's really hard to stop the spiral. It may not even be possible - most often you have to aim for "harm reduction" or "harm minimalization" rather than them being cured, because hoarding disorder is virtually incurable in traditional senses of the word. It will almost certainly always be there in some form, and you and your sister need to learn how to work around it, live with it, and minimize the damage it causes. You're lucky that you realized the problem now and can take steps to change the course of it. I didn't realize how horrible my mom's disease was until she was almost 70, and now I'm afraid that it's too late because her whole house and basement are stuffed with trash and there are only goatpaths. She won't have repair people into the house, so there is no electricity to half the sockets, only one stove burner out of four works, half of the sinks and toilets are broken, none of the drains work properly, and there is a massive mouse infestation. It's horrible what hoarding can do. It starts slowly, but given a couple of decades untreated can absolutely ruin your house, your mind, and your life. I am so, so glad that your sister is getting help now rather than later.

Before you can worry about how the place looks, you have to prioritize safety, and make sure that your sister's living situation is liveable and not dangerous. So, make sure that things function (her bed, sofa and bathtub are not too covered in trash to be used; there are no flammables near the stove; no tall piles that could tip over and hurt her or her animals, no rodent or bug infestations, etc.)

Not all hoarding is a form of OCD, as previously thought. Current research suggests that there can be many different causes including OCD, past trauma, genetics, difficulty with decision-making/making value judgements (pre-frontal cortex), past poverty, etc. I recommend getting some books on hoarding and reading them if you have time. I like Digging Out, a book for relatives of hoarders, and Buried in Treasures. I hope you can find copies in Germany.

Best of luck with your sister and the move. She is fortunate to have you there to help her, and I hope that you can work together to help her get to a better place mentally.

EDIT: Also, if you run out of time while packing, prioritize the important things. Worse comes to worst, you can take all the necessary items and pay someone else to help you bag/box up the trash and/or throw it out. I recommend not getting rid of anything that could be perceived as vaguely useful, but literal trash... I would personally throw it out. Your sister may be mad at you, but your mom shouldn't have to deal with it in her house. If sorting the good items from everything else is overwhelming, maybe you can ask your sister if it's alright for you to bring in outside help, like a friend. She may not want to agree, but if it's that or lose a lot of her possessions (in the event of a severe time crunch), it may be necessary. Just do the best you can - it's a really hard situation.

u/truthandparadox · 5 pointsr/hoarding

Apologize to her for trying to push her to get rid of things too quickly (hint: if you work with her on "cleaning" or "decorating" or "decluttering" these will also result, as you go through things together, in at first one or two items and then as she gets more confident boxes/bags of items that she is willing to have go to another "home" ie: to donate or get rid of)

ask her what kind of help she wants

Do the help that she wants. Better with her than for her.

Browse amazon online with her looking for books along the lines of what she wants help with. Helpful hint for her: don't buy everything, avoid the "buy together" promos like the plague, "want list" any items of interest and then narrow it down to two or three when buying. Work with her to set up a want list if she doesn't have one already.

Also "just happen to" browse clutter and hoarding books in amazon if she hasn't already done so above. She can add some of those to her want list.

Come across this book : One-Thing-At-Time-100 Ways to Live Clutter-Free and include this in the two or three books she actually orders.

On your way out, offer to take the items she has set aside for donation/trash to their new destination. Even if it's just one or two items. Respectfully do what she wants with these things, and report same to her next time you connect. hint:Trust will build.

tldr: understand and value her priorities, help her establish the pathways to achieve . Provide logistical support, but don't override her choices.

u/cannat · 3 pointsr/hoarding

I have this issue with my mom. I can go as far as writing out a step-by-step plan for her to accomplish something, and unless I follow up or hold her hand for each step, it never gets done. She will like the plan and can see how it will work, but never has that follow-through ability.
It's hard threading that needle between enabling and supporting. Have you read any of the books suggested by this sub? I started Children of Hoarders ( last week, and it has been very helpful so far.

u/MorituraZebra · 40 pointsr/hoarding

I’ve been reading a book on organizational strategies for people with ADHD (I think it was this one, but I don’t have it with me at the moment, so I’m not 100% sure), and it said something that seemed pretty profound to me: if you struggle with organization, it’s okay to stop trying to do things the “right” way, and instead do them the way that’s right for you.

So, for example (a few ideas based on what you wrote):

  • If your bathroom has two loads of laundry worth of dirty clothes on the floor, then it sounds like you tend to change/take off dirty clothes in there. Cool! That’s a routine you can work with. You can put a hamper in there and toss your dirty clothes into it as easily as tossing them on the floor in the same place. The book kind of points out that a lot of the time our systems fail when we make them hard, and for people (especially those with ADHD; not sure if that applies to you), attempting to do things the traditional way may make them too difficult or awkward to ever succeed. If your laundry basket/dirty clothes hamper is in a place that’s awkward for you, you may never end up using it. But you can put it where you’re tossing dirty clothes anyway and it’s 100% as valid of a placement, but much easier!
  • Or if you struggle with having a place to put clean clothes once they’re you need to actually put them away? Could you just have a clean laundry basket (or several) that they live in until you wear them, or a plastic tub (or several) with a lid on it to keep the bugs out? They might be wrinkled, sure, but they’d be clean, and you’d know where to find them. Or maybe this $13 clothes rack from Walmart (we have one, it’s great and WAY sturdier than I expected!) and a few packs of cheap hangers would let you hang everything up (even the stuff that doesn’t usually get hung up), so you can see all of it and know what’s clean.
  • And if you struggle with washing the dishes, and can afford to, could you switch to paper plates and plastic utensils for a while (or permanently)? It would cost more money than reusing permanent dishes and utensils, and it’s worse for the environment, but it would also guarantee that you always have clean plates to eat off of and clean utensils to eat with, and you never have to worry about washing them - clean up would take as long as throwing away whatever you’re done with, and you wouldn’t have to worry about it later. If you always eat on your bed, a full-size trashcan within arms’ reach would let you have an instant clean-up, without worrying about leaving any dirty dishes food waste on the floor or bed or piled somewhere.

    I don’t know if any of those suggestions would work for you (and I definitely don’t want you to feel pressured to try any of them, or buy that book!), but maybe there are similar shortcuts you could find that could help you use the systems you already have in place (like tons of dirty clothes ending up on the bathroom floor) and convert them into something that doesn’t cost any more effort or time, but changes the way you feel about your home (like placing a laundry basket where the clothes will get tossed anyway).
u/SmileAndDonate · 1 pointr/hoarding

Info | Details
Amazon Product | Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding
>Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. By using the link above you get to support a chairty and help keep this bot running through affiliate programs all at zero cost to you.

u/bevbh · 3 pointsr/hoarding

I'm a hoarder and I think this is really good advise. I think also that you need to emphasize that you deserve to have a room of your own that you feel comfortable in, where you can safely get to your window to open it or escape if there is a fire.

As an experiment, you could try collecting stuff in your room that is clearly not yours and/or clearly trash and put it in a bag or box and give it to her. Tell her that it needs to go someone other than your room. Offer to help her to sort it and put it somewhere.

There is a book for the family of hoarders called Digging Out

I also really liked the book Stuff

Most hoarders have suffered a trauma that causes them to shut down when they are overwhelmed. I am back in therapy for PTSD and reading the book The Body Keeps Score about PTSD and finding that very interesting. Some hoarders have other kinds of problems with decision making or other cognitive issues.

u/myreallife123 · 1 pointr/hoarding

Greetings /u/BearFeeled and thanks for posting.

I can relate.

I have found solace in the open discussions here and through some of the reading I have been doing. Currently [Co-Dependency No More] ( is helping me to understand how I was able to get into this situation and hopefully help me to develop some skills to correct myself.

One major thing for me has been to REALLY understanding that you can not control another adult. And if someone is following a compulsive behavior then it is pointless (actually harmful) for me to "fix" them.

Additionally, I have found that therapy has allowed a "safe" place to discuss some of these issues and has greatly improved our communications (there is still a ways to go yet). I would highly recommend this as a starting place if possible with your spouse.

I am learning slowly how to set boundaries and how to enforce them, but it is difficult for me. I can hear that you desire to do the same, I would warn that doing this to abruptly/quickly without knowing what you really need/desire and how to present it in a focused way can really add gasoline to the fire. From what I have experienced and what I have learned, there is NO WAY your confronting/decluttering/etc is going to make any positive impact on her compulsive behavior (sorry for the bad news, but it just doesn't work like that).

Finally, I would be happy to talk about anything (no matter how small) with you on here or via PM at any time.

u/TinyPinkSparkles · 2 pointsr/hoarding

Where do you get the idea that OP's mom is letting him/her do anything?

OP, do not clean the fuck out of anything, unless you want it twice as bad in a fraction of the time.

There are a couple books you might want to read to help you understand the thinking patterns of a hoarder, and might help you figure out how to best talk to your mom...

Stuff by Randy Frost

Buried in Treasures by David Tolin

u/GetOffMyLawn_ · 8 pointsr/hoarding

this is a common problem and is addressed in the book Buried In treasures. you get overly focused on the small details of organizing instead of on the big picture of getting rid of stuff. It's a great book and they have exercises to help you get past this.

u/PinkPearMartini · 8 pointsr/hoarding

A short while ago, someone on here recommended this book to me. It actually turned out to be really good!

Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD, 2nd Edition-Revised and Updated

u/shimmertree · 3 pointsr/hoarding

This is helping my ADHD relative (we have weekly appointments where I go through it with him):

Do you have an ultra-organized friend who can go through it with you? ($40 book = cheaper than weekly therapist appointments)

u/triviaqueen · 6 pointsr/hoarding

Here it is on Amazon. Come back and remind us when it's available in the U.S.